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Independent Agency to Handle Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management – BATAOIL

 

The House committees on government reorganization and national defense and security have jointly formed a technical working group (TWG) that will study and harmonize eight bills seeking to create an independent agency that will handle the country’s disaster preparedness and emergency management.

The TWG headed by Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd District, Albay) will harmonize House Bill Nos. 108, 344, 596, 2638, 3093, 4203, 4648 and 6075 authored, respectively, by Reps. Gary Alejano (Party-list, MAGDALO), Yedda Marie Romualdez (1st District, Leyte), Prospero Pichay Jr. (1st District, Surigao del Sur), Wes Gatchalian (1st District, Valenzuela City), Winnie Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Party-list, BagongHenerasyon), Doy Leachon (1st District, Oriental Mindoro) and Salceda.

The bills include measures on recovery and reconstruction plan led by PHILVOLCS; drills (earthquake, fire, etc.); fisherfolk as auxiliary response team during disasters; accounting/administration of disaster aid or donations; creating operational assessment of hazard centers; climate change adaptation linkages; providing for emergency warehouses and establishing disaster and emergency centers, among others.

Agencies that expressed their support for the bills are the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Civil Service Commission (CSC), Center for Disaster Preparedness, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and World Vision Philippines.

During the hearing, Rep. Ron Salo (Party-list, KABAYAN), who acted as the chair of the committee on government reorganization, said the joint committee will initially deliberate on the bills relating to disasters.

Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan), who acted as co-chairman of the joint committee, read the opening speech of Rep. Amado Espino (5th District, Pangasinan), chairman of the national defense and security body.

He said the panel will discuss the issue of creation of a body or agency to handle the disaster risk reduction and management program of the government.

“We have a total of 43 measures all related to each other. Although certain measures provide for the creation of the agency, it is comprehensive enough to include a myriad of provisions on the other aspects of disaster preparedness that we saw it proper to include all of the measures on the topic,” Bataoil said

Bataoil said the committees will be briefed on how the new office will be better than the present setup.

“And we have to consider the transition from the present system to the new setup because we are aware that when a disaster happens it will have to be addressed with utmost urgency and handled with the best capability that this government can offer,” he said.

Herrera-Dy said the 2015 World Risk Report Index, which evaluates a country’s risk of exposure to natural hazards and vulnerability from impacts, showed the Philippines was in the top three.

“Out of 171 countries, we are third most exposed and most vulnerable to natural disasters. Likewise in the Climate Change Vulnerability Index we are ranked 13th. Current government procedures require a revamp,” she said.

Herrera-Dy said that “we need a more systematized approach in a disaster management and have in place key mechanisms to ensure quick and efficient means of disaster preparedness and assistance to those affected.”

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